The Sons of Liberty, by Joseph and Alexander Lagos

Alexander and Joseph Lagos's graphic novel series The Sons of Liberty has a lot going for it: unusual protagonists, wonderfully vivid artwork, and an action-packed historical setting. It's the story of two runaway slave children, Brody and Graham, who escape from a dangerous plantation only to find themselves in even greater peril—they're captured by William Franklin (Benjamin Franklin's illegitimate son), who uses them as unwilling lab rats in an bizarre science experiment. Neither boy appears to survive, so William dumps their bodies in the woods... which is where they wake up, suddenly blessed with a variety of mysterious powers. Aided by an assortment of historical figures, including Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Lay, and Crispus Attucks, the boys find themselves torn between using their new-found abilities to fight for a better life in America, or an unknown future in Africa.

As superhero backstories go, I find “genetically mutated by Benjamin Franklin's secretly evil son” way more creative than, say, “bitten by a radioactive spider”. Unfortunately, The Sons of Liberty seems torn between fully exploiting its lurid premise and maintaining some historical accuracy. I'm a little uncomfortable with the authors' attempts to brand their series as an educational resource, as they've definitely taken what they describe as “extensive liberties” with the facts, but their books make for entertaining reading nonetheless—although you might not want to give a copy to your fifth grader without warning them that William Franklin wasn't actually a sadistic, power-hungry Dr. Frankenstein; just a man who bet on the wrong side during the Revolutionary War.

[Note: You might not want to give a copy to your fifth-grader anyway, as this series is pretty violent. I would only recommend it for kids ages 13+.]

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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